Alcohol Anonymous Explained

Alcoholics Anonymous is often the first thing people think of when they think of substance abuse support groups. Becoming a member is free—the  only qualification to become a member is to have the goal of quitting drinking. Alcoholics Anonymous is a community-based program whose membership has spread internationally with nearly two million members worldwide. What is it about Alcoholics Anonymous that attracts so many members? Studies have shown that individuals involved in mutual support groups like AA are more likely to remain sober after three years than those who tried to quit drinking on their own. Support groups like AA are an invaluable resource to help people achieve lasting recovery from alcohol use disorder. 


What Is Alcoholics Anonymous?

Alcoholics Anonymous, often known as AA, was founded in 1935 in Akron, Ohio by Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, two former alcoholics pursuing a solution. In 1939, the two founders along with some of the early AA members created the book Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism which is now known as “The Big Book” and gave the group its name. Alcoholics Anonymous is also well-known for its 12 Steps of recovery derived from this book. A critical component of Alcoholics Anonymous is in its name—it is anonymous. This means meetings are confidential, so everyone can feel comfortable sharing their experiences in a safe space. AA groups usually meet at least once a week to offer each other support and share their stories. Individuals may also have a “sponsor” who is another individual in the group who has made progress and interacts with another member on a continuous, individual basis.


What Are the 12-Steps?

Alcoholics Anonymous is nearly synonymous with the 12 Steps, which are a set of recovery steps to achieve and maintain sobriety. Though the 12 Steps are spiritual and include a belief in a higher power, they are not necessarily religious and are open to people of all beliefs to define this higher power in their own way. The 12 Steps are focused on acknowledging and recovering from the out-of-control behavior of addiction and restoring order and purpose in an individual’s life. The steps encourage individuals struggling with drinking to take an honest look and their lives and practice humility, acceptance, forgiveness and self-discipline in order to change their behavior, improve their emotional well-being, and grow spiritually. The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


Who Benefits From AA?

Anyone struggling with an alcohol use disorder who is seeking to quit drinking may benefit from the supportive group structure of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA offers those with substance abuse problems access to a supportive network of peers, so individuals don’t feel alone in their recovery. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder who received formal treatment and attended an AA group had a better chance of remaining sober than those who had only received formal treatment. The role of AA as a mutual support group can be an invaluable resource in long term recovery from alcohol use disorder. 


Does AA Replace Addiction Treatment?

While the supportive community Alcoholics Anonymous is valuable throughout recovery, AA by itself is a nonprofessional program. This means while it can be a useful element of recovery, it does not replace the need for medical supervision through detoxification at a professional treatment program. At Rise in Malibu, our comprehensive treatment plans integrate the tenets of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Step program to create a foundation with the program. We understand the importance of community-based support programs in recovery and work to make sure our clients are introduced to AA early on and integrate these support groups into our individualized aftercare programs. If you are interested about learning more about professional treatment at our luxury treatment center in Malibu, please click here, or contact us today,

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